Penn conventional drag resistance.

Started by Flat Top, September 18, 2023, 04:25:07 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Flat Top

I have fished Penn conventionals for some 60+ years and they have always been up to the task. One question I really cannot get an answer to is what is the max drag in pounds that these old reels can produce and what is the max drag that these reel can take before they self destruct? I have switched almost all my old Pens over to Carbontex for the smoothness, so that may have to be taken into consideration. Also I run a standard drag 5 washer setup or anything like that.

Have there been any tests or is there some data out there for max drag settings...if there is I cant find it anywhere. way underrated.


the easy answer..."It depends".  There is no set "one size fits all" for many reasons, the first one being the wide variety of reels (obviously a 9/0 in stock form is going to get more drag than a Jiggy in stock form).  After that and to your question about "self destruction" it depends on what else has been done (aftermarket frames, gears, sleeves, bars etc) all which will affect the outcome.  And then the question of "for how long?"  It's a little like asking "what's the maximum RPM I can get out of my Small Block Chevy?"
What I would honestly suggest for the best way to get a meaningful answer; ask about a specific combo (113H, Jiggy, 114H, Long Beach, etc) and talk about what you have done.  Odds are very good that one of the Ohana on this site will have enough experience to give a reasonable answer along the lines of "here is what I have got, here is what I have done in the past, here's what you can expect but you need to do.....".  Many folks on this site will be able to guide you. - john


Even among reels that share the same drag disks and even ones that share gears, there's so much variation from reel to reel. Add a shim to the stock drag stack, and there's another variable. And some people will tighten their stars a lot more than others. Some folks literally use pliers. So what one calls locked down drag may be different from what another calls locked down.

I'm not saying you can't get meaningful guidance from anecdotal evidence. But that to me explains why nobody has charted it.

We're in uncharted territory here.

In terms of what is safe to use before risking self destruction... What is your definition of safe? My definition of acceptable risk to a reel is probably quite different from some folks on here. And probably very different from someone who only owns one reel.

With that said, there seems to be a general consensus, at least for the senators, and more ubiquitous penns what each one can do before a predictable failure. For example a jigmaster's gear sleeve rounds off at about 15#. Wanna go more than that? Steel sleeve.
Any machine is a smoke machine if you use it wrong enough.

Flat Top

Thanks John; Let me try this:

All of these reels are built from the factory.

Delmar 285.....Carbontex drag washers.....8ft med heavy rod 40 lb braid, and, 7.6 ft heavy rod. 50 lb braid.
Long Beach 67.....Factory drags....7.6 ft X Heavy rod 80 lb braid.
Squidder 140.....Carbontex drag washers....8ft med heavy rod, 40 lb braid.
Leveline 350....factory drags....12 ft medium heavy rod 40 lb braid.......

........or the max drag for any of the above reels discounting rod, and line equation. A general idea should suit my needs. way underrated.

Flat Top

Jason; I understand what you are saying and there are many variables to consider seems to me that Penn would have a general idea of what each reel (OEM) would produce as far as drag is concerned but they have never listed any numbers....that I can find anyway. way underrated.

Bill B

All of the reels listed should give you a safe 10# of drag.  Be aware at heavier settings failure is a definite option.  This is a bronze main gear from a 112H.  I was preparing for last years 8 day and bench testing my drags. This failure occurred at 10#.  I suspect there was a previous issue with the gear and my testing just revealed the flaw.  Bill
It may not be very productive,
but it's sure going to be interesting!


All the classic small to medium Penn reels conventional reels are most susceptible to failure when winding under load.  The first thing to go is the gear sleeve head getting rounded off by the handle arm. The next is the post on the bridgeplate angling and the gears shredding.

So you can run at a higher drag setting if you are willing to wind at a lower load. 

For typical usage, most of these reels are safe to fish in the six to eight pound drag range.  Don't know about the 350, but the rest fall into this range.

Upgrading the gear sleeve to stainless will help a bit.  Upgrading the drags will make them smoother, but even the stock drags can be set high enough to break the reel.

Am old post from when I first joined and was trying to figure this all out, but I still think this is still mostly accurate:,9721.msg89805.html#msg89805



Great question FT. With the reels you have, I'd guess 6 - 8 lbs.

I start on the outside when wondering about drag max. & failure. The post frames on vintage Penn conventional's can move out of alignment with excess drag pressure, especially when the line is near one of the flanges, causing spool shaft tilt, and then gear mis-alignment and all kinda problems such as gear strip or dog failure.

The steel rings on the side-plates prolly help prevent this a little and the reels with 2 rings/plate are prolly better(Senators & the Long Beach Live Bait Caster—-259).

Who wants to test their reels to failure though?
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Flat Top

Bill B; That is exactly what I am trying to avoid.

Thanks Jurelometer: I read that post you linked to and it all makes sense to me...but to accomplish a fix for the issues would require...a new reel! A total redesign or at least a major re-fit would be in order.

For grins I measured a Delmar 285 reel that I keep as a spare...its the worst of the worst that I own. I used a digital hanging scale (that I use for fish and game, etc that is calibrated within .2 tenths of a pound) and measured the drag with the star drag knob as tight as I could get it by registered 8.5 to 9, 6 to 8 lbs of drag sounds about right. I just ran the same test on one of my 140 Squidders and it registered 9.7 lbs. way underrated.

Flat Top

Gfish; I think that applied drag of 8 lbs is about the max that I would want to use...I think that would be safe?

I have two tiny spinners (Diawa Laguna L5000C) that are rated at 26 lbs of drag. Using the standard methodology I should be able to run 100 lb line on that reel with no problem....I would probably only have to spool two wraps and the spool would be full! ;D I also have a Diawa BG 8000...33 lbs max drag. I dont think there was ever an old Penn Conventional that met those standards yet they accounted and still account for record book fish.

Maybe I am placing too much emphasis on this? way underrated.


Good post FT, just remember, the drag gets harder as you get less line on the spool, & there is a big differance if you do the pulling with the rod, & wind on the way down with the rod, that take a lot of pressure of off the reel, thanks for posting, cheers Don.
Don, or donnyboat

Squidder Bidder

I'd also wonder whether braid vs. mono at the same breaking strength would make a difference. Mono's ability to stretch - particularly when lots of line is played off the reel and the drag increases - likely gives you a greater margin for error before you start shredding gears and breaking stuff. So on this theory if correct you could get higher practical drag numbers with mono than braid. Other guys here could do a comprehensive fact check.


Yeah 8 lbs would be good if you did what Donnyboat was talkin bout. Which would include decreasing the drag pressure as the line on the spool decreases. A long run at 8 lbs of pressure would really heat the reel-up and that also can effect drag pressure.
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Flat Top

Donnyboat; That is the way I was taught to fish by my grandpa when I was a child. "Pull up, wind down....pull up, wind down"!!! He taught me good! Probably saved me a lot of rods and reels over the years.

Squidder Bidder; It seems that mono would stretch making it harder to get a "consistent" drag pressure number for testing purposes, but I dont know. I only use braid (with a mono shock leader) and that is what I conducted my little test with (braid only).

One word of caution...another thing my grandpa taught me. He said "when you snag or hang up, do not use the rod and reel to try to break free". He told me to "wrap the line around a smooth stick or dowel and pull on the line until it breaks free or breaks off". I have always done that as well and have seen folks break rods trying to use the rod and reel to break free of a snag...probably didnt do the reel any good as well. I carry a wooden dowel to this day.

Gfish; I have, many years ago, smoked some drags (not Carbontex) on some big fish I caught when I lived in Florida...sharks mostly. An old timer told me to lighten the drag a bit as the line played out and to conservatively use the drag to tire the fish out...He said "you will ruin a good reel and possibly break a rod, so stop doing what you are doing"! Needless to say I was doing it all wrong! Once I hauled in a 10' ft hammerhead shark (I think it measured 9' 11") hour and 15 minute fight with my Long Beach 67. My fishing buddies were dumping water on my reel (and me) to keep it cool. What a battle...replaced the drag washers after that one. I was young then...255 lbs, all muscle. Now days I have trouble landing a 10" catfish! ;) way underrated.


Stretch on the line is not going to be a major factor. That just creates a slower ramp up to the eventual full load, and the full load is what we are worried about.

Most of the components that fail, will fail due to rotational load - torque. For a given drag clamping load, the drag will increase as the effective spool diameter decreases, but the torque doesn't change.  Stuff like frame and spool spindle load will increase.

One other side note: On this site, we are usually measuring max drag from a full spool.  I haven't seen a manufacturer specify, but I suspect that a typical published max drag is closer to an empty spool.